If anything was going to make you jaded about indian ruins, it was Canyon de Chelly. Deep in the heart of the Navajo Nation, it is a beautiful canyon, with free camping, in quite a nice campground. It is horribly marred by being deep in the heart of the Navajo Nation though, where it seems just about everyone lives in near poverty. Shanties, garbage everywhere, you have to get a guide to do just about everything, they're farming in the canyon floor, and basically just being a dirty old town.
It is a beautiful canyon though. That can't be denied. There's only one part of the floor you can tour without a guide, and it was a bit of a walk, so I didn't go down, and just did the driving tour. Spider rock was pretty cool looking. Would have been quite a summit to tick off when climbing was still allowed. The Navajo don't really like climbers. I'm sure it's partly spiritual, but I'm also sure that it's partly just because they haven't worked out how to make money out of it yet.
Left, and went to one of the surprise parks of the tour. Petrified Forest national park. Not just your ordinary rocks that look like wood, lots of the logs here had picked up mineral deposits as they petrified, and were now giant agates, that looked like wood. Apparrently a lot of the logs at Crystal Forest even used to have exposed geodes in them, but the crystals all got picked out by early park visitors. Very very pretty, and agate logs as far as the eye could see, superb looking gravel even.
And one of the most unique indian ruins I'd seen yet. A ruined stone house, built entirely out of chunks of the agatized wood. And not built into a damn cave either. Very pretty. Bought some petrified rock from the gift store, like you're meant to do, but they sure as hell don't have the selection of rocks in the shop as you would picking up one you liked off the ground. But that's what everyone thinks, so they have a massive problem with hundreds of tonnes of rock dissapearing out of the park everywhere, mostly as tiny chips, no bigger than a knuckle. It would be easier to accept buying it in the store if there wasn't so damn much of it lying around everywhere. A very very worthwhile hours detour off the highway in eastern arizona.
Canyon de Chelly
Ruins on the valley floor
Swirls in the sandstone
Crystal Forrest log
Crystal Forrest logs